Agenda item

Climate Action Strategy: Square Mile and Resilience Projects Update

Report of the Executive Director, Environment.


The Committee received a report of the Executive Director, Environment, regarding the Climate Action Strategy and updating Members on progress towards achieving Square Mile and Resilience Projects.


A Member referred to the historic building energy retrofit challenge highlighted within the report and commented that this in fact involved two challenges – the technical challenge as well as an enforcement challenge. He underlined that he felt that this was a very commendable initiative but questioned how the City might meet the enforcement challenge going forward. The Chief Planning Officer and Development Director responded to say that it was correct that, in terms of planning controls, it was only in the case of listed buildings that Officers could insist upon certain things.  


Another Member welcomed the report but added that she felt that it was rather vague in some areas. She highlighted that the Climate Action Strategy was adopted in 2020, almost 18 months ago, and stressed that the Supplementary Planning Document (SPD) was needed now. The timetable set out here suggested that the draft SPD would only be consulted upon later this year which seemed to be rather slow progress. The Member highlighted the importance of this matter and underlined that there were still no agreed metrics or benchmarks in place against which to evaluate planning applications. She reported that Officers had kindly shared with her a document entitled ‘City of London Local Monitoring Paper for Sustainable Development and Climate Change’ which was dated April 2020. She praised the document but also highlighted that this was now almost two years old and questioned whether this could therefore be updated and reproduced. She asked if the existing document could be shared with all members on this Committee. She underlined the need for urgent target dates and a clear programme, particularly around the SPD. Finally, the Member questioned who the City Workstream Manager is and stated that she felt that this was a very useful appointment and that the postholder should be invited to meet the Committee in due course.


The Chair stated that he was grateful to those Members who had engaged with this and underlined that he felt that the majority of applications received by the Committee did now focus on whole-life carbon. He went on to agree with the last speaker in terms of the need to now codify this.


The Chief Planning Officer and Development Director stated that Officers would look to accelerate the drafting of the SPD for Committee approval and aim for the May meeting to bring this forward. In terms of the Climate Change Officer, he reported that he would be happy to pass on details of the postholder to the Member and for her to meet with him directly to discuss his remit. He went on to report that the document referred to by the Member was currently being updated and that it was hoped that this would be complete within the next two months.


A Member was pleased to note that the appendix to the report made reference to permeable paving and resin and grain. He noted that this was also put forward as an option for use in Moor Gardens. He underlined, however, that the City’s Public Realm Manual prohibited the use of anything other than granite and questioned when this might be revised or brought back to this Committee for consideration.


Officers responded that it was still their intention to review the Public Realm Manual and considering what this needed to look like in terms of Climate Action and the agenda around this going forward. It was clarified that some permeable materials were already used and that it was never the intention for surfaces to be entirely impermeable due to the need for things such as water run-off and soak away.


A Member questioned whether it might be possible for the Committee to hold a further, informal discussion on this important area of work after the March elections. She stressed that discussions around the updating of the Public Realm Manual were particularly important, noting that there had been many technological advancements in recent years in terms of road surfaces. Officers assured the Committee that discussions around this were already taking place within the Climate Action Group. It was also reported that the City were due to consider a new term contract for highway maintenance and so it was felt that the timing was right to consider all of these matters in the round. Members were also informed that Officers regularly looked at supply chains and material sources and were considering trialling certain new materials including recycled materials which was a rapidly developing area of interest.


RESOLVED – That Members note the update on progress towards achieving Square Mile and Climate Resilience projects under the Climate Action Strategy that fall within the remit of this Committee.

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